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NovaStor Blog

Tape Technology for Autonomous Driving Data

by Sean Curiel, on Jul 14, 2020 7:15:00 AM

Big Data from Self Driving Cars

It feels like magnetic tape has been around forever. I can clearly remember using a pencil to rewind an Eagles cassette tape that my cheap Walkman-clone decided to chew up. tape_rewindBut despite a few commonly held misconceptions, magnetic tape technology continues to this day as a popular data backup medium with unique benefits. It hasn't simply “held on”, but actually flourished - advancing steadily in the shadows of high-speed, fast access storage. 

Massive Data Growth

These days more businesses generate massive amounts of data with complex storage infrastructures. Businesses have learned to analyze their data and differentiate between active data that required fast access and inactive data for archival and later further analysis. Current LTO tapes of up to 30TB compressed data (and standards planned up to LTO12/480TB Compressed) make this technology attractive for several reasons, including cost, long term reliability, and energy efficiency. Additionally the “offline” nature of tape offers protection from ransomware and other attacks that other devices are prone to.

Autonomous Driving Use Case

One excellent business case for tape comes from an automotive industry client who runs NovaStor’s DataCenter software in conjunction with LTO technology. Aa a global supplier, they conduct ongoing test drives using autonomous vehicles. All associated data is recorded and saved to their data center for later analysis. But data storage for this environment is no small task. Each of the vehicles produces large amounts of data while driving, with total memory requirements of 20 to 30 petabytes (20-30,000 terabytes). A Dell EMC Isilon cluster specially designed for the storage of large amounts of data was chosen exclusively for this purpose.


There were two clear options when deciding on the method for backing up and archiving this large amount of data. The supplier could have used a second, appropriately sized Isilon cluster to mirror the data. Alternately magnetic tape drives could be used for archiving. Given the clients budget, a secondary cluster wouldn't make financial sense. The costs of not only the infrastructure itself, but also the costs of anticipated replacement drives over many years, maintenance, and even electrical power / cooling costs made it illogical. The decision was ultimately made to therefore copy the data to tapes using the DataCenter solution and an IBM TS4500 tape library with 8 drives - a scenario which resulted in a shocking cost savings.

Solid state drives and cloud storage have proven to be excellent backup destinations for data which must be accessed often and on short notice. But industries generating vast amounts of data often have a strong case for tape technology as a reliable and cost-effective destination for long-term data archival. Download our whitepaper “Tape’s Role in Backup Applications” for additional insight about environments and cases for using magnetic tape storage technology for backup.

Categories:Storage TechnologyIndustry News

NovaStor Blog

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